41 Scrap Metal
After Nito had collected himself, Zoey collected the several meter long snake into her inventory and the two continued on. Nito was a little more cautious now that they had been reminded that there were still stronger beasts out here that could still kill them. Nito was still exuberant that he had even been able to participate in taking the Ice Venom Sky Snake down, and his enthusiasm definitely showed. Zoey was not immune to the feeling herself and shared Nito's excitement.
They traveled deeper into the wild growth of the stone spire jungle, and as they went they encountered several more Rank 1 Ice Venom Sky Snakes, and two more Rank 2 snakes. The Rank 1 snakes were dispatched with ease, and the Rank 2 snakes they were able to take down with their teamwork. Nito would distract the creatures and do his best to be a decoy, using his Scythe Mantis ability to go invisible and reappearing in a different location to throw off the snakes.
Meanwhile, Zoey would use her abilities to chase and damage the snakes as she could. Nito was unable to do much damage with his poorly made knife, so Zoey was the one that finished off the Rank 2 snakes. She thought that maybe she would fabricate him a better blade at some point so he could be more effective when fighting the more dangerous creatures.
At noon, they found a clearing and stopped to rest and eat. They had been very successful on their hunt and both of them were happy with the progress they had made. As they rested, Zoey spotted something at the edge of the clearing that was slightly out of place. Curious, she went over to check it out. When she took a closer look, she found a piece of metal partially buried in the ground. It looked to be a panel of some kind that had been torn off at some point from some bigger construction. Zoey could see where the metal had been riveted to another piece, and the edges had been warped from stress, likely from what caused the piece to end up here.
As she inspected the metal, Nito came over to see what she had found.
"Hmm? What's this? Looks like part of Kreppelin craft maybe?" Nito muttered when he saw the piece.
"What do you mean? What is a Kreppelin?" Zoey asked, raising one of her eyebrows in curiosity.
"Big flying boat. Only noble families can afford one." Nito gestured his arms to signify the size, then spat on the ground and clicked his two upper arms together in disgust. "Nobles use Kreppelin to fly long distance. Many uses. Troops, cargo, trade goods, anything. Very expensive to make, worse to maintain. Metal looks like part of one." He dinged the metal panel to make his point.
"Where do you think it came from?" Zoey asked as she peered into the surrounding undergrowth. "Do you think it may be around here somewhere?"
Nito frowned and his twin antennae waved back and forth as he considered. "Possible. Maybe check surrounding area, see if more pieces can be found."
Zoey agreed to his suggestion, and after they straightened their equipment they started methodically searching the area for more clues about the Kreppelin craft. While they looked around, Zoey did a query in her interface to find more info on what exactly a Kreppelin craft was.
Turns out Kreppelin was the name of an engineer that had invented a type of ship that could use magical energy to fly through the air. He had lived many years ago on Darren and the flying ships he had invented had been named after him in the years after his death. The Kreppelins had originally been converted boats that the engineer had experimented on and somehow had been able to make airborne.
Once word got out that an aspiring young man was able to perform this remarkable feat, noble families far and wide had invited him to join their families. The nobles had promised wealth and riches, women and power, and finally, Kreppelin had taken an offer and joined a noble house known as the Feuer house. With the resources that the Feuer house gave him, he was able to eventually design and mass produce the Kreppelin airships that made the Feuer house one of the biggest noble houses on Darren to this day.
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Naturally, the other noble houses not so fortunate wanted Kreppelin airships of their own, so they had resorted to any and all means to steal or reproduce their own version of the Kreppelin airship. For many years, this silent war raged under the surface, until a spy managed to finally steal a copy of Kreppelin's blueprints for the airships that he designed. By then the Feuer noble house had grown to the point where there were none that could match their strength, and the other noble houses were steadily losing their influence and power as the Feuer house grew.
However, once the blueprints for the airships were leaked, every noble house entered a fevered state of research, development and production to build their own Kreppelin fleet. Eventually most of the noble houses were able to build their own fleets, and the power gap that had developed between them and the Feuer house was equalized somewhat. The noble families that were unable to afford the massive costs associated with developing and building a Kreppelin either withered and faded away, or were wiped out by their rivals.
As the years passed, the name Kreppelin became associated with the sight of the flying magical ships. The various noble houses kept trying to improve the design of the ships long after Kreppelin's own death, leading to many different types of airships that could be seen flying through the sky on occasion. At this point in history, a specific design on a Kreppelin airship could usually be traced back to the noble house it came from thanks to the efforts by each house to differentiate themselves from the rest. The unique visual style and colors of each house were the methods used on their Kreppelins to display their power and wealth to the commoners that were tied to the ground.
Now that Zoey knew what exactly what a Kreppelin airship was, she returned her attention to the jungle around her and continued the search.